March 23, 2016
Photo Courtesy of: Carsten ten Brink 2009 @Flickr
On the occasion of the 31st Session of UN Human Rights Council, on 22 March 2016, the Ogaden People’s Rights Organization (OPRO) reiterated the need to address the plight of the region’s population which – if the oil deal that has recently been struck by Ethiopia, China and Djibouti is pushed through as planned – is doomed to suffer even more substantial hardships than it is already facing. OPRO urges the Ethiopian government to open up the region for international human rights agencies and observers and calls on the UN to push for the immediate resettlement of already more than 400,000 IDPs to their ancestral homelands.
Below is an appeal published by the Ogaden People’s Rights Organization:
Ladies and gentlemen,
We would like to draw your attention towards the oil deal that has been reached by the Chinese, Ethiopian and Djibouti governments on the grounds that this deal is not only contrary to UN Conventions but that it threatens the nomadic lives of those who are forced to flee as a result. The Ethiopian army has embarked upon clearing large swathes of fertile land for oil exploration whilst preventing civilians from returning to their ancestral lands by confiscating their livestock. The Government has planned a security perimeter closure of 700km2 that the nomadic communities and their livestock have no rights to enter despite this being the only means of subsistence for nomads.
This project which plans to transport gas from the Ogaden to Djibouti and from there to China and to the Ethiopian central town of Hawash does not benefit those entitled to benefit from those resources, it is a clear act of exploitation. It will only add to the security, humanitarian and ecological problems that already exist in the Ogaden.
The Ogaden Somali region does not have a free and fair regional government, rather, it has one which facilitates the mass crimes committed by the central Government. Though the Ethiopian Constitution says that all resources belong to the Federal Government and nations and nationalities have no words on them, this is contrary to what the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights signed in 1993 by Ethiopia states. Part one of Article two says:
“All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence“.
Civilians have been subjected to mass murder, torture, rape and entire villages have been razed to the ground. Up to 400,000 internally displaced civilians have already been reported. Trade restrictions and the expulsion of aid agencies have only exacerbated the humanitarian catastrophe. Ethiopia has rejected dozens of recommendations from UN country members, including carrying out an independent investigation on human rights abuses and allowing for all humanitarian agencies to work freely in the Ogaden. The Ethiopian government has shown no interest in cooperating with UN Human Rights bodies, especially the Treaty Bodies, including the implementation of Treaty Body recommendations.
The Patronas and Lundin oil companies have withdrawn from the region after recognizing that the Ogaden region is characterised by instability and war. We encourage the Chinese owned POLY-GCL Petroleum Group and Black Rhinos companies to do the same.
We recommend the following:
- That the Ethiopian Government opens the Ogaden region allowing all humanitarian agencies including the ICRC and MSF Suisse to work freely whilst dismantling the Liyu Police Militia.
- Human Rights Council to nominate special rapporteur for Ogaden.
- Human Rights Council member states specially the EU, UK, USA and other Ethiopian donors, to pressure Ethiopia, Djibouti and China to halt this project until the humanitarian problems and human rights violations in the Ogaden are resolved.
- UN, Djibouti and China to participate in seeking a peaceful solution on this issue.
- UN resettles the internally displaced to their original localities.